Now that you have had the opportunity to focus on the type of horse you would like to purchase, and what you are looking to do with your horse, let's speak about where you can go for certain types of horses.

Where to look for horses:

Beyond the regular websites you can do an internet search of horses for sale I will focus this on the non-breed specific buyer. Here are my favorite places to recommend finding horses for sale:

  • Sale & Rental Farms Specifically the ones who lease out summer camp and lesson program horses. These places can sometimes have lease & lease with option to buy horses. If you are looking for a horse at the end of the summer, you can find many wonderful horses and ponies that are being returned to sale barns from summer camps . Many of these sale farms have horses which you can do a short term (usually 3 month) lease with a pre-arranged sale price should you decide to buy the horse at the end of the rental/lease agreement. If they have a summer camp horse who is requested by the same camp year after year, they may allow a private party the opportunity to do a 'winter lease' for the non-camp months of the year. Note, you will have to return the horse in time for it to go to the camp the following spring. You can find camp/lesson horses with all different breeds and backgrounds. From gaited, to jumpers, dressage and breed specific horses.

  • Trail Ride/Camping on Horseback Businesses: If you are in a location with seasonal equine businesses like I am, there are many trail businesses who sells off part of their herd at the end of peak season or before they close for winter. Depending on the size of the business and how rugged the terrain is on the trails you may find an amazing trail horse for sale in the fall season. There is one place I send people looking for real trail horses, because their trail horses have experience going out into rivers and traversing rocky & uneven terrain. I even met someone who had her horse shipped from Hawaii to Massachusetts because she fell head over heels for him when she went on vacation to Hawaii and trail rode him every day of her 2 week vacation.

  • Your Farrier & Vet: For those of you who already own your own horse and may be looking to add to your herd, speak to your farrier and vet about horses they may know are available for sale or a lease with option to buy. People tell their farrier and vet that their horses are for sale and it's always a good idea to ask.

  • Local Horse Associations: You can find horses that may be for sale by word of mouth, through local clubs (like 4H and Pony Club) and Associations (State Trail Riders Association, State Breed Associations, etc).

  • Where You Currently Ride: The farm you take lessons at may have suitable horses for you to purchase. Some even offer lease with option to buy for a set period (usually 1 - 2 months).

Part 3 will walk you through avoiding some hard lessons when buying a horse.

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It's finally time to buy a horse! Maybe you've been planning for it for a long time, maybe it's a spur of the moment decision. Before you buy, take the time to answer these questions! Set yourself up for your best outcome.

I know you may have been hearing advice from all different directions. Anyone can tell you about the horse that someone bought from somewhere that ended terribly. Because, quite frankly, it DOES happen. People are sold 'perfect' horses. It doesn't mean that the horse isn't perfect for someone, it just may not be perfect for you. So let's make sure you are clear on what you want in your horse. Before you decide to buy a horse, there are some things you need to keep in mind.

Understand what you need in a horse:

What level of rider are you? (Please be honest with yourself when asking this question.)

  • Walk & trot but have not begun to canter?

  • Comfortable walk and trot but nervous about cantering/not well balanced at the canter?

  • Love to ride fast but you haven't taken formal instruction? (Yes, that matters too!)

  • Love to jump?

  • Love to trail ride?

  • Ask your instructor what type of horse would be best for you personally.

  • How often are you able to come and ride your horse?

How many horses have your ridden in your riding career and in what venue? Guided trail rides, riding lessons, show horses, or your friend's horse? (Trust me, this question matters more than you may realize.)

  • Let me explain: The person who has only ridden their favorite lesson horse for the past 2 years does not have the same skillset as the person who has ridden many horses of varied sizes, and levels of training over the past 2 years.

  • Leisure rider: You are looking to go to the barn and hop on your horse and go for trail rides, but you don't have a lot of time in the saddle, riding. If this is you, you must consider how often the trail horse is currently being ridden and how often you (honestly) will be coming to ride the horse. (Less work or more work than it is used to can be an issue depending on the individual horse.) Are you riding alone or always with someone? Many times, horses listed as trail horses have only done trail riding with a group of horses. Or have very limited overall training, they may only know to follow the horse in front of them. Remove them from their home and their herd and you may have issues.

  • Even someone that has owned a horse for most or all of a horse's life will need special considerations with riding skill. If you have had the same horse for a lifetime and only rode that horse, you need to understand the changes this can bring. For example: bonding with the new horse without comparing it to your old horse. What was 'the norm' for your other horse most likely will be different with all the new horses you try.

What physical limitations do you have?

  • Height plays a factor in horse purchases. If you are tall or petite, there are simply certain horses that will be easier for you to ride.

  • Prior injuries can limit what type of riding and the type of horse you can physically enjoy riding.

  • Do you have a specific breed or physical size you prefer or even require? (I know a few of my clients who, as they got older changed to gaited horses because it was more comfortable and they could still trail ride and show. So Mountain Pleasure horses and Rocky Mountain horses were on our search, and another rider loved the height of Tennessee Walkers.)

What can you afford?

  • This question should include not only the purchase price, but upkeep (board), care (vet, supplements, etc.), tack, training and much more.

  • Remember a single health issue can create financial hardship for a horse owner. Additionally, can you afford a horse that isn't able to be ridden? Can you afford to own a horse for riding and a horse on rehab (short or long term) or a pasture pet? (It happens.)

Understand what you want in a horse:

What type of horse are you looking for? (Don't berate yourself about wanting a certain 'look' or type of horse.) Know what attracts you to a horse and how important that is to the overall experience of owning a horse. If you know you have 'shiny toy' attraction or that 'kind eyes' draw you in, best to understand your belief system before you go find a horse.

  • You have to be honest with yourself. If you favor Palominos but are looking for a show jumper, you will have limited choices depending on how attached you are to color and how much time you are willing to invest in the search.

In Part 2 - I will offer places to go to help you in your search.

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A couple weekends ago, one of my adult riders was hand-walking a lesson horse until I came into the ring. When I walked into the ring my student asked me "Why does she (my lesson horse) keep stopping in the middle of the ring while I walk her? She keeps looking to the back of the barn. Why is she doing that?" I told her she was probably listening to the new horse hollering. I was right, but it was SO much more than that.

What this amazing mare kept looking toward was the fearful energy the other horse was exuding. It had nothing to do with the hollering which had ended about 5 minutes before we ever got into the ring. Let me give you perspective, the ring is a very large indoor arena (60 X 230) built for reining. We were on one end and the other horse was down at the opposite end, through a closed door and on the farthest corner of the barn from us. Yet, my horse could still sense the other horse's fear.

The Boogie Man Cometh...

I could tell that something was making my steadfast horse antsy. But I couldn't have anticipated that she would become wide-eyed and grow about 10 inches taller as the other horse entered the ring. I told my student to give me the reins quickly and step far away from us. As soon as that happened, this usually unflappable horse went into a full blown panic because of the new horse in the arena. We're not talking distress, we're talking full flight response.

The other horse in question was not only new to the facility but extremely fearful and skittish. Her owner was relatively new to horses and rather inexperienced. Obviously by seeing the change in one of the most solid horses I know, the new little horse was far

more fearful than I ever imagined.

I decided that the best thing to do was to teach my student how to refocus and regain control of a horse in this type of environment. Sometimes, you have to use an unexpected issue as an opportunity to educate and build a bond between human and horse. In other words, my student needed to learn how to make her horse understand and believe that even IF the boogie man comes into the barn that she was in fact, safe.

The Queen Arrives

I am Queen, hear me roar.

We are safe because I stand, walk and present myself in a way that says 'I fear nothing, you are safe with me.'

We spent the hour working together to help my student how to re-create her persona while working with her horse. We worked on how the leader stands with confidence. How a leader walks,

breathes and what mentally the expectation is inside their head to get there and stay there.

By the end of the hour my student had taken enormous leaps forward in her horse handling skills which further helped her in her riding the following week as she used the same confidence riding that she learned to harness on the ground.

So why is it that we have become disconnected from our 'Inner Queen' (or King)? The hardest thing for us to remember is the power we all carry within us to be leaders.

But it is no wonder that we have a difficult time remembering who we are. How our new way of living in this fast-paced life has made us morph into a lesser version of our true self.

When you walk a dual line at work, at school or at home it causes you to think, speak and act differently. Sometimes even randomly. It makes you vacillate between the multiple roles you play, student vs. teacher; employer vs. employee; parent vs. child. In many cases, the long term effect can cause physical symptoms, such as changes in eating and sleeping habits. Emotional overwhelm, uncertainty and even fear that does not seem to stem from anything in particular.

Although those are more dramatic, long term symptoms, I do believe that we have become less and less in-tune with ourselves and our feelings. This comes in an effort to find 'sanity' in a world that goes at such a fast pace that we can no longer keep up unless we shut down a part of ourselves.

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